Dr Martens – the original “bovver boot” now sported by everyone from Gigi Hadid and Jessica Alba to Brooklyn Beckham and Orlando Bloom – has witnessed a 70% jump in profits, triggered by a surge in online sales as new boss Kenny Wilson stamps his authority.
Chief executive Wilson joined last May from Cath Kidston, where he was credited with expanding its overseas business and doubling sales from £60m to £130m.
He cited a number of Dr Marten brand extensions for the growth, including sandals, collaborations with the Sex Pistols and designer Marc Jacobs, children’s collections and, no doubt much to the amusement of die-hard fans, the vegan range.
Dr Martens profits have risen 70% in the year to March 31 2019 to £454.4m. A major push to cut out third-party retailers eating into profits has seen direct-to-consumer revenues rise 42% to nearly £200m, with online sales soaring two-thirds to £72.7m.
Wilson insists that vegan boots have increased by “multiple hundreds of percent” in recent years, and now account for 4% of sales.
In total, Dr Marten sold 8.3 million pairs of shoes across its entire range over the year.
The Dr Martens boot was originally designed by German army doctor Klaus Martens during World War II, using soft leather and air-padded soles made of tyres. The shoes took off in 1947 when Martens went into business with an old university friend, Herbert Funck, with the duo initially using discarded rubber from Luftwaffe airfields.
In 1959, British shoe manufacturer R Griggs Group bought patent rights to manufacture the shoes in the UK, slightly reshaped the heel, added the yellow stitching, and trademarked the soles as AirWair. The range was primarily seen as workwear.
However, “DMs” moved into youth culture in the late Sixties when they were adopted by skinheads, then later by punks, and other subcultures. This heritage is not lost on Wilson, however, who said the company was “empowering rebellious self-expression” for its millions of customers.
Late last year, the brand appointed We Are Social as creative partner for its international autumn/winter 2019 campaign after a competitive pitch.
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